By Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh/Berks)
The year 2019 has been a busy one! I have been meeting with many constituents both in Harrisburg and the district listening to their concerns and ideas. I have also been attending a great many meetings, hearings, and tours to talk with experts and expand my education on various issues. I authored several legislative measures with two of them becoming law this past year. I am also already working on new legislative proposals for 2020.
One of the new laws I authored, known as the Construction Industry Employee Verification Act, was signed into law and will take effect in 2020. This law will require employers in the construction industry to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure their new hires do not include individuals not authorized to work in the United States.
This law is needed because, unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous employers who hire individuals not authorized to work in the U.S. for their construction teams. These employers and their unfair business practices hurt workers by driving down wages, creating an unlevel playing field for other employers to compete against, and depriving government of revenue that could be used to fund programs like unemployment compensation.
Under the new law, construction employers who fail to use E-Verify when hiring new employees will have action taken against a company’s licenses that are required to do business. This will hold employers accountable for their hiring practices that take jobs away from legal citizens.
While this new law makes the use of E-Verify mandatory only for construction industry employers, I support the use of E-Verify for new hires in all industries.
One of the laws the General Assembly worked hard to get enacted in 2019 will make historic changes to our voting practices. Taking effect for the primary in April, Act 77 of 2019
allows no-excuse voting by mail up to 50 days before an election for any voter and allows disabled voters to submit a single absentee ballot application each calendar year that applies to all elections that year.
The new law also shortens the deadline to register to vote to 15 days before the election instead of 30 days and extends the deadline for absentee ballots to be received until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Previously, they were due by 5 p.m. the Friday before an election. In addition, the law eliminates straight-party ticket voting.
Finally, the law relieves some of the financial burden placed on counties when the governor suddenly decertified all voting machines in the Commonwealth, requiring their replacement in time for the 2020 elections. More specifically, the law authorizes $90 million in borrowing to provide counties with an approximately 60% reimbursement of their expenses related to upgraded voting machines.
Also new in 2019 was my selection to serve on the Council of State Governments’ (CSG) National Future of Work Task Force and as co-chair of CSG’s Eastern Regional Conference. The mission of CSG is to facilitate the exchange of ideas among state policymakers, business leaders, and the academic community. My work with CSG helps me expand my information base and bring new ideas and concepts that are working in other states back to the Commonwealth for discussion.
A piece of legislation I am currently working on for 2020 would help promote the use of a new technology, create jobs and reduce waste that ends up in landfills.
House Bill 1808
would ensure that advanced recycling and recovery technology companies have a chance to thrive and are not misclassified as solid waste producers. Advanced recycling and recovery facilities process post-use plastics into new plastics and chemicals, raw materials for manufacturing, and transportation fuels that have lower emissions than conventional fuels. Converting these resources into new materials and fuels complements existing mechanical recycling and reduces the amount of material sent to landfills.
Treating post-use plastics as raw materials for “manufacturing” and not “waste” will remove Department of Environmental Protection permitting barriers for this emerging industry and promote continued innovation and investment. The current law does not clearly classify these new technologies as manufacturing and my legislation corrects that.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I have been working on this year. As always, I am humbled by your support of me as your state representative and will continue to work to protect taxpayers, reform government, create jobs, and strengthen education.
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman